In a bit of a change of pace from the normal fare, I thought I'd post some pictures from a visit today to TVA's Norris Dam. At 130 MW peak generating capacity, it is perhaps the one source out there that can truly compete with nuclear in terms of marginal unit cost as well as dispatchability: hydro.
|Norris Dam from the western overlook|
|Norris Dam and power station|
In other respects, hydro shares some similarities with other renewables - the energy output of a hydroelectric plant is fundamentally tied to nature - namely by the reservoir level (which in turn is influenced by rainfall levels). Unlike wind and solar however, hydro represents relatively "smooth" and predictable power output - while meteorology is far from a perfect science, rainfall patterns are generally quite predictable, meaning output levels from hydroelectric dams can also be readily planned for in advance.
|The view from the top of Norris Dam|
|Clinch River valley, past the impoundment|
Unfortunately, at least as far as the U.S. goes, most of the "prime" hydroelectric capacity has already been tapped - meaning we've got about as much as we're going to get from this source.
Happy Memorial Day to our U.S. readers - we'll be back to our regular scheduled programming later this week.